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Speeches & Transcripts November 1, 2021

Transcript: World Bank Group President David Malpass's Interview with Aaron Heslehurst on BBC World

World Bank Group President David Malpass and BBC business news presenter Aaron Heslehurst: BBC World


Aaron Heslehurst: It’s certainly a conundrum on the minds of world leaders who are 700 kilometers north of me right now in Glasgow at the UN climate change [conference], known of course as COP26. On that note, let me bring in the big boss of the World Bank. President David Malpass joins us. David, always a pleasure having you with us, my friend. David, let's start with how do you balance the economic needs of these developing economies with the emissions from travel and tourism?

David Malpass: We need a lot of projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide for adaptation in countries. Biodiversity and nature-based solutions are a big part of our Climate Change Action Plan and of the direction of this conference. I'm in Glasgow now and it is a bit chilly, but people are going to be gathering and trying to figure out who pays for all this change that needs to be done in order to move forward.

Aaron Heslehurst: Actually, on that point I was going to ask if these economies are going to try and diversify away from tourism and be more sustainable. David, where is that cash investment coming from? Are you at the World Bank going to stump it up?

David Malpass: We can do part of it. We’re in the middle of a big fund-raising effort that will end in December called IDA20. The UK will contribute, and other countries contribute. It's not nearly enough. It's a very good way to transfer resources to the poorer countries, the low-income countries. We also need debt relief for them and vaccination doses. All of that is important in re-establishing the tourism industry, which is so important. Can I also make a mention of remittances? For a lot of the countries, the money that comes from workers outside their borders is vital. Right now, there's not enough digitalization in these countries. These are major themes within IDA. The World Bank puts together the interests of donors in terms of climate change, digitalization and reducing poverty in this major program. It's the world's biggest anti-poverty program and we’ll concluding it in December.

Aaron Heslehurst: David as you know, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned everyone gathering where you are that this is one minute to midnight to tackle climate. The $100 billion a year target for funding to help the poorer nations hasn’t even been met yet. I just last week spoke to UNCTAD who said richer nations need to cough up to help the developing economies go green. What do you say to that? Richer nations are just not doing their roles at the moment.

David Malpass: This is hard to put a target on. The World Bank is doing a quarter of that target. The US, the UK are putting in some. That’s super helpful. There needs to be more resources, but people also need to recognize that we’re going to need to bring in the private sector heavily, both in the form of grants but also in the form of concessional lending, meaning very low interest rate loans in order to make the projects work. The focus I’m trying to put in COP26 is the number of projects. We need hundreds of projects that reduce methane leakage in Turkmenistan and that close coal mines and coal-powered fire plants because when they’re closed improperly, they end up leaking methane. These are powerful greenhouses gases, and it can be done in a financially possible way if everybody works together on putting in the money.

Aaron Heslehurst: David, just very quickly – it’s all about money but the likes of Saudi Arabia and Australia, they want that money from coal and fossil fuels. How do you convince them to change tack? I’m sorry; you’ve got 30 seconds.

David Malpass: I want to put heavy emphasis on the projects themselves. We have to go around the world and say where do the greenhouse gases come from and who’s going to reduce their emissions. That means China, the United States, Europe. It’s very hard because of the energy crisis and shortage that’s on right now.